The search of the Lamine River for the body of Mengqi Ji Elledge will carry into a third day. 

Columbia Police Department spokesman Jeff Pitts said authorities will return at 9 a.m. Thursday to the prime search area under a bridge near the De Bourgmont Access point on Missouri 41 north of I-70. 

Authorities have been focusing on the area intensively since Tuesday morning, using boats, cranes and divers to move debris away from the bridge supports. Some preliminary searching with boats and divers also occurred last week.  

Much of the same activity went on Wednesday. 

“We’re pretty confident that we’re looking in the right area,” Assistant Columbia Police Chief Jeremiah Hunter told reporters Tuesday. But Hunter declined to say what aspect of the ongoing investigation brought them to that spot on the river.

Again on Wednesday, several boats were put into the water around 9 a.m. from the access area where police vehicles were stationed and worked the area throughout the day until about 5 p.m.  

Agencies involved in the search operation included the Columbia Police Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol Water Patrol Division, the Cooper County Sheriff’s Department, the Federal Aviation Administration and Missouri Task Force 1, Hunter said.

The public access area at the river has been closed to allow room for a staging area for diving equipment and other police and official vehicles involved in the search. Reporters were kept back from the bridge.

Law enforcement had searched portions of the Lamine River last week. The area is of interest because of several leads police developed about her disappearance, including information obtained from her husband, Joseph Elledge, who is a suspect in the case.

Joseph Elledge told detectives during an interview that he had taken a drive through rural areas of surrounding counties on the day of his wife’s disappearance.

Last month, law enforcement asked hunters and other outdoors enthusiasts operating in rural areas of Boone County and surrounding areas to report anything that might be related to the case.

Mengqi Ji Elledge has been missing for more than a month.

Anyone with information is asked to call Columbia Police at (573) 874-7652 or, to remain anonymous, CrimeStoppers at (573) 875-TIPS.

Supervising editor is Fred Anklam Jr.

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